Travelogue: Seattle, Washington: Pike Place, Capitol Hill + More
A few weeks ago, I had the honor and privilege of attending the School Library Journal Leadership Summit in Seattle, WA. It was an amazing weekend filled with sightseeing, learning and good times with friends old and new. I’m going to break up the experience with several posts.
I’ll admit, this post doesn’t have much to do with the SLJ Summit itself. I’d never been to Seattle before and my time was pretty limited, so I wanted to maximize my free time by seeing as much as possible. I was asked to write a post about what I did and where I went, so here it is.
I use Google maps to create custom maps every time I travel somewhere (I’ll write a post on this at some point). After reading tons of articles, pins and a travel guide, I tried to narrow down my plans to a few areas that would be easy to get to on foot or by public transportation. I didn’t make it to nearly as many places as I wanted, but I still got a good trip around the city.
Downtown & starting out
Since I was flying from the East coast, I scheduled my flight to get me to Seattle as early as possible. I started off my journey by taking the Link from the airport into downtown. It was cheap and a lot of fun, but I didn’t realize just how brutal the hills are in Seattle. I was tired and sweaty by the time I finally made it to the hotel. The conference hotel was located across the street from the Seattle Public Library Central Branch, so naturally that was my first stop. This library is the most beautifully designed library I have ever seen. The architecture is stunning, and there is well designed patron-friendly signage throughout the space. I seriously could spend hours in this place, and my pictures don’t do it justice.
Westlake & Seattle Center
After exploring the library, I headed over to the Westlake area for a little shopping. I’m a big fan of Timbuk2, so naturally I had to visit their store, since I’ve never been to a city that has one before. After visiting a couple of other shops, I took the monorail over to Seattle center. The monorail is cheap and super fun. It’s one of the leftover relics from the 1962 World’s Fair. When I got to Seattle Center, I took a few obligatory photos of the Space Needle, but didn’t go up in it. It just seemed over priced and like it would take up too much time to me.
Instead, I went to the EMP museum, which was amazing. Where else can you see Kurt Cobain’s cardigan, Jimi Hendrix’s guitar, Princess Leia’s leather bikini and a Dalek all in one place? It was nerd heaven.
My last stop of day 1 was the super hipster neighborhood of Capitol Hill. It was an easy fifteen minute walk from the hotel, and there was so much to see. Beautiful street art. Cool indie shops. The highlights of my visit included two amazing ice cream places, Bluebird Microcreamery & Brewery and Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream, where I got Marionberry ice cream and Honey lavender and balsamic strawberry, respectively. In between all that, I checked out Elliot Bay Book Store, which is an amazing independent bookstore. I also visited Everyday Music, a huge independent music store. By this point, the sun was starting to set, so I headed back downtown to meet up with Elissa Malespina and her family for dinner at BOKA, which was delicious.
Pike Place Part 1
On day 2, my body was still operating on EST, so I was wide awake and eager to get going at 4:30 in the morning. I decided to start the day off by visiting THE Starbucks at Pike Place Market. It’s notoriously crowded, but when I showed up at 6:30am there were only two other people in line. I got a coffee and a Pike Place You Are Here mug – thank you Jennifer Lagarde for getting me hooked on these. I drank my coffee while exploring Pike Place Market in the pre-dawn drizzle. Then I got smoked salmon benedict over potatoes at Bacco Cafe.
South Lake Union
Since nothing but breakfast and coffee places seem to open before 9 or 10am in Seattle, I walked over to Westlake and took the South Lake Union Trolley over to South Lake Union. It was a nice ride (and again cheap) and it gave me a chance to see Amazon’s main campus (now I wish that I had explored it more). Nothing at South Lake Union park was open, but the lake itself was beautiful, and I got some great pictures of the Canadian geese that were hanging out. Since nothing around here was open yet either, I walked over to Seattle Center, took the monorail back to Westlake, and walked back to Pike Place Market
Pike Place Part 2
Now that things were actually open, I could explore a bit more in Pike Place. I got coffee at Seattle Coffee Works first. Then I visited the Gum wall, which is strangely beautiful, although all the business cards people had stuck on annoyed me. I checked out Pike Place Fish Market, but was disappointed that they weren’t throwing fish at the time. I got a beautiful scratch-off map of the United States to keep track of my travels at Metzger’s Maps. I visited Left Bank Books, an anarchist bookstore, which was pretty awesome. By this point, I had to make it back to the hotel for the school tours.
Waterfront and Ferry
After the tours, I had a few hours to spare before the opening reception of the summit. I tried to get oyster happy hour at Elliot Bay Oyster House, but it was crazy crowded, so instead I went to Cafe 56, their cafe offshoot (which is apparently now closed?). The food was fantastic, and it was calm and quiet. After walking around the waterfront a bit, I took a ferry across Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island. The views were amazing and the ride across was peaceful. It did take a lot longer than I thought it would though, so next time I would allow myself some more time. Still, I got great pictures and had some time to get some writing done.
After that, the summit kicked into full gear and I didn’t have any more time for sightseeing. Next time I have a list of places I want to visit: Belltown, Pioneer Square, International District, more museums and the Skyview Observatory, which is supposed to have better views than the Space Needle. By the way, I logged about 28,000 steps using my Jawbone UP on these two days. My legs were tired.
Check out my Flickr page to see all my photos from Seattle.
Have you been to Seattle before? What was your favorite place? Let me know in the comments 🙂